IMPROVING FLEXIBILITY THROUGH
Flexibility is a major
health-related component of fitness. Stretching exercises help to improve or
maintain flexibility. People who are inflexible (especially in the front and
back of the thigh) are more prone to lower back pain. Therefore, a stretching
routine will help you maintain or improve your current flexibility so you feel
BEFORE YOU STRETCH
Current research on stretching has
shown that a warmup before doing any of the following stretches is essential!
In fact, if you do not warm up before you stretch you can even hurt yourself!
To warm up, simply do some large muscle activities (like running in place or
walking briskly) until you "break a sweat". When you are at this
point, you may begin stretching.
Remember that your muscles are very
smart. If you bounce while you are stretching, your muscles will not allow you
to stretch. They will be nervous that you are going to hurt them, so they will
contract and not allow a stretch to take place. You cannot control this
response because it is a reflex. So, make sure you take a stretch to the point
of tension (not pain) and then hold that position for approximately 20-30
seconds. Always listen to your body - if it hurts, you are stretching too far!
Stretching is most effective following a workout because the body is
completely warm. The stretching done before a workout will help to prevent
muscle and joint injuries.
CALF STRETCH: The
top leg in this picture is the leg being stretched. Sit up tall
(chin up) with good posture. Stretch the calf with the knee
straight (not locked) and again with the knee bent to stretch both
SHIN AND HIP FLEXOR
STRETCH: Relax the back knee on the ground with the toe under.
Make sure the front heel is on the ground and keep the chin up for
Lie face down with the hip bones touching the ground and bend one
knee to your seat. Add your arm to the foot only if you can
maintain the hip on the ground. The same stretch standing is also
While lying on your back, relax your hip on the ground. Keep your
toe relaxed and add the arms below the knee if needed.
Lying on your back, relax the hip on the ground and pull the knee
towards the chest. Keep the foot relaxed. This is also a lower
STRETCH: Sit up tall and let your knees relax with feet together.
Always stretch with proper posture, which means keeping the chin
STRETCH: Cross one leg over the other leg and hold. If you cannot
feel this stretch, sit up while keeping the legs crossed.
Lying on your stomach, lift your upper body up while resting most
of your weight on your elbows. This is an essential stretch for
those of us that sit at a desk all day. This stretch will help to
counteract the effects of daily living and help improve posture.
UPPER BACK STRETCH:
While on your hands and knees, stretch your upper back similar to
the way a cat would stretch. Add breathing exercises if you would
LOWER BACK: Lying
on your back, tilt your pelvis to the ground by flattening out the
natural curve in the low back area.
SHOULDER ROLLS -
REVERSE: Rolling the shoulders backwards will help to counteract
the effects of flexing forward all day. This stretch is a must for
TRICEP AND SHOULDER
STRETCH: Sit up tall in a seated or standing position and place
one hand on the upper back, emphasizing pointing the elbow up.